The most common use of the modern-day umbrella (ie as rain-defense) wasn’t documented until the 17th century. At the time, umbrellas were considered a bourgeois women’s product. Found in European countries like Italy, France, and England - theumbrella canopies of the 1600s were made of silk, but still retained the signature canopy shape.
The actual origins of the umbrella, however, start much earlier - and not as a rainwear accessory. The parasol - used as a form of portable shade - has been documented in places likeancient China, Rome, Greece, Egypt, the Middle East, and India since the 4th century B.C. These ancient forms of UV-protection were similar in shape to modern-day umbrellas but built from naturally-occurring materials like feathers, bones, leaves, or leather.
Even then, the parasol (or sunshade) was considered a women’s product and primarily used by the upper-class. In fact, members of royalty, the clergy, or government were often painted with these same parasols.At this point in time, the umbrella was an accessory turned status symbol - similar to a Rolex watch today. Some kings would even go as far as to bestow use of these early-umbrellas to their favorite subjects.
Fast forward to the mid-1800s and the umbrella had lost some of its luxury appeals - becoming more of a common accessory for the everyday woman. However, it wasn’t untilEnglishman Jonas Hanway constructed - and carried - his own rain umbrella onto the streets of London in 1750 that everyday men started to notice. As it happens to many innovators - Einstein, Tesla, Musk, Jobs - Hanway was ridiculed at first, but he persevered and continued to carry a rain umbrella with him everywhere he went. By the late 1700s and early 1800s, the umbrella had become a staple rainwear accessory for both men and women. The name “Hanway” had even evolved to become synonymous with the rain umbrella itself, at the time.
Since then, the materials used to create umbrellas have continued to evolve, but the original canopy shape remains the same. Whalebones became wood, then steel, aluminum, and now carbon-fiber to construct the frame and ribs. Modern-day nylon fabrics have replaced leaves, feathers, and silks as a lighter, sleeker, and more durable alternative.
At Hedgehog Umbrella, we take the traditional canopy design from the 4th century B.C. and combine it with 21st-century automotive-inspired technology to create the most compact, reliable, and weatherproof umbrella today.
If you’d like to learn a little more about us (and our story) - keep reading!
To guarantee lifetime durability, we had to reinvent the traditional steel-rib structureinvented by Samuel Fox in 1852. Dual-carbon fiber ribs fused by ballistic-grade polycarbonate joints deliver the strongest strength-to-weight ratio ever recorded on an umbrella. Grounded by a stainless steel shaft, this frame architecture is what makes Hedgehog Umbrella the miniature “incredible hulk of the umbrella universe” (at least according to Huffington Post).
Inspired by the 21st-century automotive industry, we developed an Umbrella Rib Suspension System (WindFlex) able to seamlessly integrate the traditional 4th century B.C. design. At high winds, this Suspension System increases flexibility to the canopy structure while maintaining the strength of the canopy shape. This flexibility prevents the canopy from flipping inside out - period. Hedgehog Umbrella is the first and only umbrella with a wind-resistant suspension system.